The power of prayer is only seen by those who understand the discipline of commitment. The ones who use prayer as a request hotline in times of need, never experience the full revelation it can bring. In my opinion, the enemy will fight harder to keep you from praying than anything else. The devil would rather hear you worship as to listen to you consistently pray. I believe in worshiping God and expressing our love for Him with outward emotions, but our relationship with God cannot be built on that alone. Praise is a reaction to the goodness of God, but prayer is the essential daily commitment of growing in a relationship with God through knowledge, communication, and self-denial.
If you really want to make a difference, build a prayer life.
On this spiritual journey, we walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is not optional, it is imperative. With it, we can endure until the end. There will be some things in our way that will need to be moved, while at other times, we will face things that will require us to go through.
Yes, we can say to the mountain, “Be Moved And Cast Into The Sea” but what if it’s a mountain we’re supposed to climb? God will not move something that is a part of His plan for our journey. So if your mountain hasn’t moved, it’s not that you don’t have faith, you just have to make sure your faith is aligned with God’s will.
Remember this; faith can either move what’s in your way or give you the strength to get through it.
I woke up this morning thinking about how important yet how difficult the subject of forgiveness is. Maybe it’s just me, but forgiving a person that has caused me pain and heartache are not usually what causes me to think about the subject. It usually happens after going over the details of what they did to me; then I remind myself of what I should do. I’m sure that’s just me though.
Choosing not to forgive is like a person that is bound and has the ability to get loose, but refuses to. Knowing you’re shackled and chained is tormenting, but what’s worse is remaining in that condition because you won’t allow yourself to be delivered. Forgiveness is the key to liberty, and that’s all you have to do to break free, but so many times we choose being bound over becoming free.
I’m not saying it’s easy; I’m just saying it’s worth it. Holding onto hurt and waiting for your moment to get revenge will only keep you from the things that you need to be focused on in your life. The truth is, it’s keeping you bound. Your vision is limited, and your talent is lying dormant. While you spend your time thinking about what someone did to you, your creativity is being wasted. You need to be set free, and only you can do it. Yes, God will help you, but you hold the key…use it!!! I promise you; “IT’S WORTH IT”!!!
People who are not careful with their words don’t realize the damage and hurt they cause. What’s sad, is some of them have done it for so long, they don’t think anything about it. They speak before thinking. Sure, there are times when a person like this will come to you and apologize, but when it becomes a pattern, you start to wonder if they really are sorry for the things they said. The truth is, after a while, an apology doesn’t mean much. I can’t think of a worse habit that an uncontrolled tongue and mouth that spits out negative and critical words. The relationships in your life should be more important to you than reacting on a feeling at the moment or worse than that, an assumption.
I think the worst excuse I’ve heard is when someone says, “This is just the way I am, and people will just have to get used to it.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time or the patience to get comfortable with getting hurt. It’s important to use words that build each other up, not tear people down. Your family, friends and church community deserve to hear positive and encouraging words. None of us are perfect, and we all have bad days, but I’m not talking about a mistake, I’m talking about a constant disregard for other people’s feelings with what they say.
It’s great if you want to apologize to someone for something you said, but I think it would be even better if you asked the Lord to help you get control of your tongue and practiced daily on breaking the habit. Fill your mind with scriptures on this subject and purchase other material that deals with it too. Any bad habit that causes people to be hurt someone must be addressed and fixed. The uncontrolled tongue can cause as much damage as a person addicted to alcohol or drugs. You may think I sound extreme, but I believe it to be this damaging.
If you’ve been hurt or continuing to be hurt by someone, I am sorry you have to deal with this, and I know you have some big decisions to make if they do not change. You cannot continue to live your life in this kind of dangerous environment. You may want to have an honest conversation with that person and tell them how they are making you feel. Their response will let you know what you should do next. Last but not least, earnestly pray for that person because one by one, they are going to lose a lot of relationships in their lives. They may wake up one day, look around and wonder where everyone in their lives has gone.
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Proverbs 15:4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
I was eating at waffle house yesterday and my close friend, Joseph Reed texted me and said congratulations. I text back ????? He replied you, Marcia Henry and Ratchel McCutchen have nominated for bluegrass/country/ roots song of the year. And that point and just about spit out my country ham and eggs!!! Within the next few minutes, I started getting other texts and phone calls from my friends and family congratulating me. Thank you all for being so kind to my amazing co-writing friends and me. I’ll never forget the day we wrote that song. We were actually in a little white church house. Marcia told us how she always wanted to write a song about the church she grew up in, and I could see how much that meant to her. We had written two other songs and had a few minutes left, and I said Marcia, let’s write your song. Wow, we had so much fun writings lyrics that connected each of us to backgrounds of being raised in the church.
Thanks to Doug Anderson for knocking it out of the park on vocals and for Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, and Kevin Ward for believing in the song and inviting me to be a part of such a great team of writers.
It’s also really cool that my kids think I’m famous…hahahahaha!!!
To start today’s blog, I want to take a moment to congratulate you for making it this far. By now, you’ve probably seen every Krispy Cream Doughnut Ad and every “sizzling” steak billboard in your area. But for the past four days, you have fought off temptation, dealt with “the hangries”, and struggled through fatigue. That in itself is an accomplishment! However, there is still a long ways to go. So let’s keep things going and look at today’s focus; the heart.
The Bible tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (see Duet 6:5). Loving God with all your heart is key because scripture teaches us that the heart is the core of our thoughts, motives, fears, beliefs, etc.
In fact, Jesus said to His disciples, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (See Matt 6:21). So then, what ever we desire, our heart will be right there propetuating us towards that desire. Fasting causes us to address the issue of our heart’s desires. What do I really want more? Natural things or heavenly things?
When we deprive ourselves of natural cravings, we begin to draw out the carnal desires that are in our hearts. However, let me say this; fasting as a ritual will never bring the spiritual results we suppose. Just depriving ourselves from food does not address or change the condition of our hearts. In order to do this, we must stay focused on God during fasting through prayer and reading our Bibles.
While fasting, we may begin to see desires surface that we are not aware that we have. But how can this be? Don’t we know our own heart? The truth is we don’t know everything that is in our heart. The Lord tells us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ” (See Jer 17:9).
Over time, with out us knowing, we have probably let things get in our hearts that should not be. We’ve let in offenses, doubts, perversions, and anything else the enemy can sow into our hearts for our destruction. To combat this, we must learn to “Guard our Heart.”
The only way to truly guard our heart is to give it to the Lord. During this fast, we must be willing to ask God to search us and know our hearts (See Ps 139:23). We must be willing to allow God to surface any sinful desire that needs purging, ask him to remove it through prayer, and replace those things with the word of God.
Let me end by saying how fitting it is to discuss the heart on day five. Traditionally, five in the Bible represents grace. We all fall short and fail to guard our hearts from the enemy’s tactics. But today, as you fast, trust in the grace of God. Allow Him to continue to do a work in you, for you, and through you. And today, as you fast, make up in your mind to guard your heart.
(Prov 4:23 NLT) “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
In the social media world, every Thursday is now referred to as “#TBT” which stands for “THROW BACK THURSDAY”. You’ll see all kinds of pictures of people from several years ago and how they have changed over time. There is nothing like checking your Facebook page and discover someone has tagged you in a picture that was taken when you were much younger. Sometimes there are others in the picture that you haven’t thought of in a long time and you spend time traveling down memory lane.
On this Thursday, instead of sharing an old image, I thought I would share some history about “The Livingstons”.
I have had the privilege of being in the ministry for over 30 years and I am very proud of my Christian heritage on both sides of my family. Growing up, I was surrounded by many great ministers, including my father, grandfather and several of my uncles. They were not only ministers, but also great musicians and singers. My grandmother, Dad and Uncle were well-known singers in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. In the early 1960’s they sang frequently on the radio and at many other special events. They were known as “THE LIVINGSTONS”.
When my Dad was called into the ministry, in 1964, my uncle and he traveled and sang together for several years. Then, in 1967, my Dad and Mom were married and began to sing together. In 1973, they joined with my grandmother, Uncle and Aunt and recorded the first “LIVINGSTON’S ALBUM”. I was just a small boy at the time, but I remember going to the studio and experiencing the process of putting an album together.
My family began traveling in the full time evangelistic work and I started singing with them. My Dad played the guitar, my Mom played the organ, and I was on the drums. We were a pretty good, little 3 piece family band. My sister, Shana Livingston, was born and after several years, she started singing with us. I still remember my Dad teaching us how to sing different parts and training us to blend our voices together in harmony. Shana was an incredible singer and a great addition to our family band.
Then, several years later, “THE LIVINGSTONS” added another member when I married a beautiful young lady with an amazing voice, Alonna McCool, who was also from a very talented family. She sang with her Mom and Dad and sometimes with her little brothers. Even though Alonna and I traveled full time on the evangelistic field, we would get together with my sister and dad and would sing as often as we could. In the early 90’s, we had our first record deal and made the decision to do a project. My Dad was thrilled because not only were we blessing people with our music, but we were also carrying on a family tradition of “THE LIVINGSTONS”.
We had such an incredible time traveling and singing together. “THE LIVINGSTONS”, at that time, consisted of Dean, Shana, Alonna and me. I also had the privilege of teaching Alonna’s two younger brothers, Cory and Spencer McCool, how to play drums and bass. Soon they started traveling and playing with us. They were also great singers and joined us on several songs. God blessed us and we were able to travel to many places and encourage people through our songs. I have been blessed to share the stage with all these incredible singers.
God gave us favor and in 1996, we signed with “DAYWIND RECORDS” in Nashville, TN. The next year we were nominated for the Horizon Group of the year award at the National Quartet Convention. Our first album was called, “NO STONE UNTURNED” and our first single was, “I Will Lift My Voice”. The song did well on the charts and it offered a new sound in the Southern Gospel music world. Because we had a different sound, we weren’t sure how we would be accepted, but the response was incredible. We had the honor of singing with some of the most popular performers of that time and all of them were so kind and encouraging to us.
Our last album was called “STORIES”, and it was recorded in 1998…17 years ago. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long. So much has happened since that last recording. My Dad and Mom still pastor a church in Bristol, VA where my sister, Shana, is the music minister. My brother- in- law, Spencer, Pastors with my Father-in-law in Utica, MI. I, along with my much larger family, pastor in Nashville, TN. As you may know, my brother-in-law, Cory, went home to be with Jesus in 2009 and there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him.
While we were singing and recording through the 90’s, Alonna and I had a beautiful little daughter who grew up watching and listening to us sing. Brittany was just a kid during that time, but in these last 17 years, she has grown into a very talented young lady. She is a great singer, musician and songwriter and such a blessing to us. She and her husband, Jason, assist us in the church we pastor here in Nashville. Together, we have invested 9 years in this church and have sold out to the Kingdom of God.
Now, after 17 years, my wife and I, along with our daughter Brittany, are going into the studio to record a brand new album! We are so excited about this new adventure and cannot wait to share 10 brand news songs that we have written together. We feel really strong that we are obeying the voice of God. This is one of the talents God has blessed my family with and we want to make sure we are using it for the Kingdom of God.
When I shared the news with my parents, my mother reminded me that we would be the 3rd generation of “THE LIVINGSTONS”. It is an honor to carry on such an amazing tradition handed to us by our family. We want the Lord’s blessings on our new album, but because of our heritage, We want our family to be proud of what we are doing. We want them all to know we are thankful for the years they have dedicated to the ministry.
We are excited and also nervous as we began the process of recording a new album. As with all of our other albums, we want our songs to speak to hurting people everywhere and bring them encouragement. These songs tell the story of where we’ve been for the last 17 years and what we have gone through. Our prayer is that the story of our journey will help someone during their journey too. We cannot wait to share this album with you and also tell you the inspiration behind every song. Please pray for God’s blessings and anointing to be on us as we sing these songs and soon offer them to everyone.